This is breastfeeding awareness week and so I thought I would write a post related to breastfeeding each day.
To all mothers who wanted to but couldn’t; to all mothers who didn’t but wish they did. To those who started but faced lots of challenges, to those who had it smooth sailing. To all the mothers who held a wee-one to their bosom for a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year and more happy breastfeeding awareness week.
During infancy and early childhood the value of adequate nutrition to ensure the growth, health, and development of children to their full potential cannot be overemphasised. If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year. (WHO, 2015)
Definitions related to breastfeeding:
According to WHO, breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. (WHO, 2015) Whilst I agree with the above definition I think the word natural should have been used in this context in place of normal as other alternatives to breastfeeding are generally artificial not abnormal.
- A child is said to be breastfeed if it has received breast milk direct from the breast or expressed.
- An exclusively breastfed infant is one who has received only breast milk from its’ mother or a wet nurse including expressed breast milk, with no other liquids or solids except for drops or syrups consisting of vitamins, mineral supplements, or medicines.
- Infants who are predominantly breastfeed have breast milk as the major source of nourishment. However, the infant may also have received water and water-based drinks. With the exception of fruit juice and sugar water, no food-based fluid is allowed under this definition.
- Complementary feeding: The child has received both breast milk and solid or semi-solid food. (Labbok, 2008 – 2014)
Can every woman breastfeed?
Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large. (WHO, 2015). Under certain conditions a mother’s ability to breastfeed might be difficult or impossible for example primary lactation failure, this is when a mother does not make an adequate amount of milk for her baby, even when every other aspect is in order (including, but not limited to: latch and positioning, breastfeeding frequency and exclusivity, mother and baby are kept together, baby’s oral anatomy is fine – no tongue tie, cleft palate). A variety of reasons might lead to primary lactation failure: hormonal complications, severance of vital nerve and duct systems during thoracic or breast surgery and failure of the mammary tissue to develop during adolescence. (KellyMom, 1996–2014).
Managing lactation failure:
There are three categories of lactation failure: pre-glandular, glandular, and post-glandular (Morton, 1994). Hormonal issues such as a retained placenta or postpartum thyroiditis are often directly responsible for pre-glandular low or no milk production. Post-glandular causes refer to things that happen after birth which get breastfeeding off to a “bad start,” like a baby who cannot properly transfer milk at the breast (for whatever reason), or poor breastfeeding management, such as scheduled feeds, extended separation of mother and baby. Glandular causes of little or no milk production might include previous breast surgery, or hypoplasia/IGT. Often, glandular lactation failure is accompanied by one or more pre-glandular and post-glandular factors. (KellyMom, 1996–2014).
In order to properly manage lactation related challenges it is very important to find the root cause of the problem and offer appropriate treatment and most importantly empathetic support. Instantly passing a judgement on the mothers’ effort or offering advice without first listening to her challenges often makes offering effective support difficult. Every mother should seek support and adequate information from lactation consultants, peer supporters when any problem occurs. Antenatal support and information is very good as it helps prepare you ahead of time.
KellyMom. (1996–2014). http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/insufficient-glandular-tissue/. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from Kellymom.com
Labbok, M. (2008 – 2014). http://www.llli.org/ba/feb00.html. Retrieved June 21, 2015, from La Leche League International
WHO. (2015). http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/en/. Retrieved June 21, 2015, from http://www.who.int